When it comes to passenger fare alerts, Kayak are the best I’ve seen, and they’ve been doing it longer than anyone else I know of. This is good email marketing, and email marketing is a topic I’ve covered many times before. Whether it be Continental’s honesty in admitting the difficulties in this type of marketing, Expedia’s innovative email marketing, or the learnings from other industries that may be applicable to airlines looking at email marketing, it is clearly a topic that I hope airlines find as relevant to growing their revenue as I do.
Here is the Kayak example. One nice touch is the top line showing this is the final alert and that I have to visit their site if I want to renew it. This sends a very powerful message to advertisers that the customer database is very current. So often I hear people talking about a site having x amount of members, but this is totally irrelevant if many of them just signed up once and never returned. Another nice feature is the way Kayak are pushing hotels in New York at me, even though I only asked for airfares. The fact that they have the prices included make the content so much more compelling. And then on the right they show me prices for a wide range of other destinations leaving from my departure city; just because I asked for fares to New York doesn’t neccesarily means this is the only potential trip I will be making in the coming months.
Next up, take a look at this nice RSS example from Iberia. Nowhere near as functionally rich as the Kayak email, but an interesting use of a different type of delivery technology. It is fed by the nice cache they built, which also gave them good landing pages and improved their natural ranking within the search engines. I’m curious why they are using an American style date format when to my knowledge this was developed in-house, but maybe the RSS portion of it is outsourced.
Normally I write about innovation which implies adding functionality to a website, so it is rare to see an airline website dropping functionality. Recently I wrote about United.com dropping PNR on hold, and a while ago they actually removed customer email alerts offering special fares. It is hard to imagine a good justification for dropping an opt-in email database, especially if the production of the email is largely or totally automated as should be the case. But as simple as email is, if airlines with the resources of Continental and United are having trouble getting it right, then clearly it is an area that requires a lot more consideration than most airlines give it today.